Employment levels under scrutiny

Staff Writer

LABOUR and employer representatives met at the Harare International Conference Centre on Monday to discuss establishing a national framework of action to fight poverty through decent employment.


The national consultation, hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) sub regional office for southern Africa based in Harare, is one of a series being held across Africa in preparation for the 10th ILO regional meeting which takes place in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa from December 2 to 5.


The theme arose out of the report of the ILO director general Juan Somavia to the organisation.


Somavia’s report, entitled Working out of poverty, calls for government, employers and labour organisations in each nation to work together to promote decent employment as a means of reducing and eventually eradicating poverty.


The labour scenario in Zimbabwe has been very tense during the past two years.


Government accuses the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) of consistently organising strikes to try and topple it.


It says the ZCTU should not be called a labour movement at all because it is an arm of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.


In his report Somavia recognises that cynics may consider the notion of eradicating poverty unrealistic. He is optimistic however that poverty can be eradicated.


“We know that in their time cynics said the same thing about slavery, apartheid, the Berlin Wall, denial of women’s right to vote and so many other systems of social inequality,” Somavia says. “Together we will prove them wrong once again. Another world is possible.”


The labour expert points out that individuals living in poverty draw on enormous reserves of courage, ingenuity, persistence and mutual support just to survive.


“In many ways the working poor are the ultimate entrepreneurs,” the report says.


It says inequality between the richest and poorest worldwide has grown.

“The policy followed by many countries of growing first and improving distribution later has not worked,” Somavia says.


“If wealth had been more evenly distributed this would not have impaired trade or diminished investment but on the contrary, would have meant there were fewer people living in poverty, more consumers and greater demand.”